I tend to be eventually friendzoned by any guy who shows interest in me. Should I act more mysterious around them or less interested in them? Should I show more boobs (because they are pretty nice, but I prefer to wear T-shirts)? How do I make them LIKE me and not just like me? —Ashley, 17

Honestly, you need to stop trying to impress guys. Acting mysterious, being aloof, or showing more leg, boobs, and so on may get some boy hot and bothered, but is that what you want? Wouldn’t you rather have a guy respect you for who you are than fall in lust with some version of yourself that you’ve manufactured for his pleasure? That said, I don’t know if you’re doing something specific that is giving guys you like the message that you’re not interested in them that way. Why not be more direct with the boy about what you want? Showing off your boobs may get you a lot of attention, but trust me, you do not want to be defined by them. Use your words, not your boobs!!

Should I get a Harry Potter tattoo? Is it too lame? —also from Ashley, 17

Don’t do it! Imagine your Harry Potter tattoo when you’re 70 years old and your grandchild is wondering why you have a wizard on your arm? Almost everyone I know who got a tattoo on impulse (this sounds like one) regrets it. On the other hand, I have friends who put a lot of thought and creativity into their beautiful tattoos; these are the people with no regrets. I could be wrong, of course—maybe Harry Potter will be your lifetime idol. In that case, then, you’ll still want this tattoo in a few years, and at that point you’ll feel more sure about it. But for now hold off. I loved the movie Labyrinth when I was younger, and I’m glad I don’t have the words “The Babe With the Power” on my back today.

I cheated. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever done, and I hate myself for it. There are reasons why I did it, mostly me moving out, having a long-distance relationship, quitting therapy, and feeling disconnected from…everything. But I know none of these are excuses. Nothing makes it OK, because it was selfish and it was CHEATING. My boyfriend is working on forgiving me (we’ve been working on this for months), but how do I forgive myself? I hate me. I loathe me. I’m constantly reminded of my mistakes, and I cry constantly. I can’t keep it together anymore. Every song on the radio is telling me that cheaters don’t deserve to be happy. I feel like I don’t even deserve to get sympathy for feeling so depressed. Help me! —J.

Let me sit you down for a moment, J. Almost every woman, at various times in her life, will experience moments when she is cheated on, and moments when she is the cheater. I have been around the block and back, and my take on this subject is that things happen in life that you just don’t expect, and they usually reveal deeper problems you may not want to look at—but that you probably should. I don’t want to justify your actions, but you’ve owned up to what you did. That is important and huge. You also obviously feel bad about it. Maybe too bad—it sounds like you’re really beating yourself up over this, and that’s not doing yourself or your boyfriend any favors. Instead of all this needless self-flagellation, try looking at the deeper problems going on in your life. You feel disconnected—why? Is it possible you cheated to sabotage a good relationship? Do you do that kind of thing to yourself a lot? Why? Or maybe you didn’t want to admit that your current relationship isn’t working, so you cheated to create a more obvious issue to deal with. And what about the person you cheated with? How do they feel about it? How do you feel about them? These are all questions I think you need to answer for yourself. Are you in therapy? It’s not a bad idea to talk to someone about this, besides your boyfriend—though talking openly about it with him is obviously really important and might even make your relationship stronger from here on out. Or maybe you will realize that you are not happy, and you made this “mistake” to open an exit door for yourself. J, self-hatred is a beast that you need to tackle down to the ground. Please don’t beat yourself up anymore. You recognize that what you did was wrong. You are paying the price. Now forgive yourself, then find out why you did it.

When a guy, or a group of guys, comes up to you in the street asking for your number, is there a polite way to say no? —S.

You can always say, “I don’t give my number out to people I don’t know.” That’s super polite. However, in most situations a simple “no” is perfectly acceptable. ♦

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